ImaginingOtherwise: Transforming Spaces through Arts Education

ImaginingOtherwise: Transforming Spaces through Arts Education is a Phase 2 Large Grant project in South Africa.

Imagining Otherwise is a cross disciplinary collaboration grounded in performance, activism and youth-led social change. The co-creator collective of young people located in Cape Town’s Cape Flats seeks to establish a sense of place beyond systemic identification of place with gangs, drugs and violence. We aim to challenge youth disempowerment related to lack of resources as consequence of systematic erasure and forgetting.

The project partners, Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education and Bottomup deliver arts-based activism and education, with an explicit focus on young people’s participation in the community and a mentorship programme. The partners build capacity through intensive workshops with local artists: performance, storyboards and graphic novel. The cross-arts collaborative storying of experiences and dissemination enables a wide audience to engage with what young people identify in their communities for developing resilience. Drawing on the team’s collective experience in working with marginalised young people and the arts as method for critical engagement in public life, we approach the context of violence and exclusion through participatory arts.

We ask: 1. How do young people make sense of race and spatial inequalities in Cape Town? 2. What role does the generative potential of the arts have in ‘hope’? 3. When we create and make the world, can that assist in redressing the psycho-social effects of poverty, unemployment and rampant violence in educational and activist alternatives? 4. How do dialogic creative arts generate a theory and practice of social change by, with and for marginalised young people?

In order to address these questions, we are working with several aims: * to map and analyse spatial inequalities of community engagement and resources in the Cape Flats. * to establish a programme of youth engagement through creative arts education. * through such engagement, to generate alternative youth imaginaries and practices.

This short video highlights our final sharing and reflections from participants and facilitators. More information and videos from participants is available on the ImaginingOtherwise project page here.


The Youth Arts Toolkit is a collection of workshops (some online, some in person) that were developed over the year of the Imagining Otherwise project. This resource is for anyone who wants to use the arts as a means of exploring social justice issues with young people, and includes drama, writing, and creative mapping workshops that the team (Tshisimani, Bottom Up and University of Leeds and freelance artists) developed. We would love feedback on this resource, and how you might or have used it. Please send to
Engage Journal 45: Class and Inequality explores issues of class, socio-economic disadvantage and inequality in relation to gallery education and engagement programmes and the related sector. Read Permanent crisis of visibility: Young working-class Capetonians in Zeitz MOCAA from the CTS Large Grant ImaginingOtherwise project team, Aylwyn Walsh, Ashley Visagie, and Helene Rousseau.
The #ImaginingOtherwise crew introduces some of their tasks and experiments using video storytelling to amplify voices and advocate for their communities.
Developed with young artists in collaboration with @lodeffilms, this step-by-step film demonstrates how you can use mobile phones for telling your stories.
In the final activist film on CT stories: #ImaginingOtherwise young ppl explore Cape Town, introduce their understanding of space & creative use of filmmaking to represent people, communities and lives.
In this collaborative text, ImaginingOtherwise draw out the key social justice concerns faced by young people in South Africa, setting them against the learning from the arts-based project. Moving beyond the framing of the context of race, violence and dispossession, ImaginingOtherwise explore how these critical ideas move towards a useful set of tools for arts education. We do this in the format of a glossary; which we see as building a methodology of participation in the arts as radical possibility—and invitation towards ImaginingOtherwise.
View the Glossary
The #ImaginingOtherwise team hosted a series of webinars, or international conversations, about the value of co-creation and participation. Catch-up on all the episodes at your leisure.

Read the latest news from the project

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Project location

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